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Minnis Administration blew $807K on lawyers in Shane Gibson trial

The Minnis Administration spent $1.1 million on foreign lawyers in the failed trials of former cabinet minister Shane Gibson and former Public Hospitals Authority Chairman Frank Smith.

Over $800,000 of taxpayers money was squandered for British lawyers in the Gibson trial while nearly $300,000 was flushed down the toilet in the Smith trial.

Attorney General Ryan Pinder made the revelation in the Senate on Monday.

“What is alarming Madam President is the amount of funds expended on the failed political prosecutions,” Pinder said during his contribution to the Speech from the Throne.

“The former Attorney General spent $807,755.87 of the Bahamian taxpayer dollars with foreign lawyers on the prosecution of Shane Gibson, and $290,903.44 on the prosecution of Frank Smith, two political prosecutions that failed.”

“Added together, the former Government spent approximately $1.1 million on failed political prosecutions,” he added.

The outrageous amount represents 32% of all of the fees paid to the Government’s primary foreign law firms over a 4-year period on all matters.

“This is in addition to the time taken by the respective attorneys from the Department of Public Prosecutions whose time clearly would have been better served prosecuting legitimate criminals in The Bahamas,” Pinder said.

Within months of coming to office, the Minnis-led government ordered the arrests of Gibson, Smith and former Environment Minister Ken Dorsett on trumped up bribery and extortion charges.

In addition to finding Smith not guilty, Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson condemned the actions of then Minister of National Security Marvin Dames who called the prosecution’s star witness Barbara Hanna 13 times and met with her at his constituency office before charges were filed against Smith. She also chastised then-Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands who awarded a $1.2 million PHA contract to Hanna without board approval shortly before Smith was charged.

In the Gibson trial, leaked recordings revealed that ASP Debra Thompson held an illegal joint meeting between prosecution witnesses Jonathan Ash, Deborah Bastian and their respective attorneys to “iron out inconsistencies” in their police statements and to “synchronize” their very different accounts of what transpired during a meeting with Gibson.

A jury acquitted Gibson of all charges in 2019 but it took the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) two years to send Thompson on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into a complaint Gibson filed against her.

Despite promising transparency and accountability when the FNM was elected in 2017, then-Attorney General Carl Bethel refused to reveal how much the government paid British lawyers to prosecute those two cases

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